USA Luge HQ staying in Lake Placid

LAKE PLACID – The USA Luge Board of Directors Saturday unanimously decided to keep their organization’s headquarters in New York state for at least five more years, CEO and Executive Director Jim Leahy said by phone shortly after the board’s decision in Park City, Utah.

“There was a lot of discussion on both Park City and Lake Placid, but at the end of the day, the decision was made to stay in Lake Placid,” Leahy said.

A year ago, citing the need for improvements to their facilities and boosting their financial situation, the USA Luge Board of Directors decided to see if other cities would be interested in hosting the organization’s headquarters, which is currently at 57 Church St. in Lake Placid. On May 14, Leahy presented proposals from Lake Placid – host of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics – and the 2002 Winter Olympic host of Park City, the only other city interested in having the USA Luge headquarters. It is also the only other U.S. city with an Olympic track for luge, bobsled and skeleton.

“The state has made commitments both with capital improvements to our facility and some marketing dollars as well, so it’s a pretty good package,” Leahy said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a statement shortly after the decision.

“USA Luge plays a central role in Lake Placid’s storied history, and we are thrilled they will remain in the region,” Cuomo said in the release. “Today’s vote ensures that USA Luge will continue to drive significant economic growth, create well-paying jobs and inspire the next generation of Olympians in New York state.”

The state, through the Olympic Regional Development Authority, has pledged $5 million for capital improvements and $1 million in marketing dollars – through Empire State Development – to help support the performance of its mission, including $200,000 per year over five years to support televising World Cup competitions in Lake Placid.

“We know the importance of preserving the Adirondack Park’s legacy of Olympic gold and we believe that keeping USA Luge in Lake Placid is crucial to achieving that goal,” ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said in the governor’s release. “We must work to inspire athletes across New York – and that means ensuring continued investment in Lake Placid’s extraordinary facilities, and keeping the momentum and enthusiasm moving forward for residents, tourists and visitors alike.”

Leahy said USA Luge board members took special note of the existing facilities in Lake Placid when making their decision.

“We have an Olympic Training Center already in place for athletes to stay,” Leahy said. “Although we need improvements, we have an existing start facility. And we still have access to everything that comes with sports medicine and our relationship with Adirondack Medical Center already in place. Those are the three critical issues I addressed all along with the RFP.”

The $5 million will go toward the creation of a new world-class start ramp facility, which is expected to be constructed for luge and bobsled. USA Luge’s current indoor start track is too short, and bobsledders at USA Bobsled and Skeleton currently use an outdoor start track. The funds will also help the organization create indoor technical rooms for working on sleds, which is mostly done outside under a tent during the warmer months. The current facility was constructed in 1991.

“These are the things that are going to help us and our athletes perform better for Team USA,” Leahy said. “I think this entire process was all about how do we help provide necessary resources that will help them perform better.”

With their bare-bones building, USA Luge athletes earned 18 World Cup medals this past season, and the team walked away with third place overall in three categories: for the Team Relay World Cup, Chris Mazdzer for men’s singles and Summer Britcher for the Sprint World Cup. Erin Hamlin, who won a bronze medal at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, placed fourth overall in the women’s singles. This was the most successful year in the organization’s history since being founded in 1979 in Lake Placid.

In a prepared statement, Leahy also thanked Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Deputy Director of State Operations Andrew Kennedy, ORDA CEO Ted Blazer, Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism CEO Jim McKenna and Empire State Development’s Richard Newman, Lindsey Boylan, Gavin Landry and Kevin Younis.

“Their support through this process has led us to this announcement,” Leahy said in the release. “I would also like to thank Colin Hilton, President & CEO Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation and Jeff Robbins, President & CEO Utah Sports Commission for their support during this process.”

It was a team effort to lobby USA Luge to keep its headquarters in Lake Placid, with input from a number of key organizations in the Olympic Region, including the village of Lake Placid, town of North Elba, ORDA, U.S. Olympic Training Center, Adirondack Health, Essex County and the North Country Regional Economic Development Council.

“USA Luge’s roots are right here and we have felt all along that that this is where they should stay,” Blazer said in the governor’s release. “It’s obvious that the state of New York felt the same way. I’m confident that with the commitment made by Governor Andrew Cuomo, Empire State Development, the community, the Lake Placid Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism and the Olympic Authority that USA Luge will continue to call Lake Placid home as they strive for continued international and Olympic excellence in the sport of luge.”

McKenna said the creation of a new start track will have a ripple effect since it will benefit luge and bobsled athletes.

“I guess this sort of solidifies the fact that New York state and our region is in the game,” McKenna said by phone Saturday. “I don’t think there’s any question that there’s a commitment from the state, and certainly there’s a commitment from the Lake Placid area.”

In addition, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Willsboro), state Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) and Assemblyman Dan Stec (R-Queensbury) toured the USA Luge office and pledged their support.

“I’m relieved that they decided to stay five more years,” Stec said by phone Saturday. “That I think gives us some more time at the state level to make sure that we come up with a financial plan of support to not only address USA Luge’s needs in the future but other things, too.”

At the end of February, Stec and Little joined USA Luge officials and members of the Olympic Region coalition at the Capitol in a meeting with the governor’s staff to discuss the needs of the organization and improvements at the Olympic venues.

While the national governing body’s headquarters is in Lake Placid, USA Luge already has an office in Park City, and Leahy stressed that they will continue to have “a robust presence” there for many years to come.

USA Luge recently announced its teams for the 2016-2017 season, and the athletes have their eyes set on the next Olympic Winter Games in 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea. The five-year commitment would be in place until 2021, less than a year before U.S. lugers compete in the 2022 Olympic Winter Games at Beijing, China.

USA Luge HQ staying in Lake Placid

LAKE PLACID – The USA Luge Board of Directors Saturday, May 14 unanimously decided to keep their organization’s headquarters in New York state for at least five more years, CEO and Executive Director Jim Leahy said by phone shortly after the board’s decision in Park City, Utah.

“There was a lot of discussion on both Park City and Lake Placid, but at the end of the day, the decision was made to stay in Lake Placid,” Leahy said.

A year ago, citing the need for improvements to their facilities and boosting their financial situation, the USA Luge Board of Directors decided to see if other cities would be interested in hosting the organization’s headquarters, which is currently at 57 Church St. in Lake Placid. On May 14, Leahy presented proposals from Lake Placid – host of the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics – and the 2002 Winter Olympic host of Park City, the only other city interested in having the USA Luge headquarters. It is also the only other U.S. city with an Olympic track for luge, bobsled and skeleton.

“The state has made commitments both with capital improvements to our facility and some marketing dollars as well, so it’s a pretty good package,” Leahy said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a statement shortly after the decision.

“USA Luge plays a central role in Lake Placid’s storied history, and we are thrilled they will remain in the region,” Cuomo said in the release. “Today’s vote ensures that USA Luge will continue to drive significant economic growth, create well-paying jobs and inspire the next generation of Olympians in New York state.”

New York state, through the Olympic Regional Development Authority, has pledged $5 million for capital improvements and $1 million in marketing dollars – through Empire State Development – to help support the performance of its mission, including $200,000 per year over five years to support televising World Cup competitions in Lake Placid.

“We know the importance of preserving the Adirondack Park’s legacy of Olympic gold and we believe that keeping USA Luge in Lake Placid is crucial to achieving that goal,” ESD President, CEO and Commissioner Howard Zemsky said in the governor’s release. “We must work to inspire athletes across New York – and that means ensuring continued investment in Lake Placid’s extraordinary facilities, and keeping the momentum and enthusiasm moving forward for residents, tourists and visitors alike.”

Leahy said USA Luge board members took special note of the existing facilities in Lake Placid when making their decision.

“We have an Olympic Training Center already in place for athletes to stay,” Leahy said. “Although we need improvements, we have an existing start facility. And we still have access to everything that comes with sports medicine and our relationship with Adirondack Medical Center already in place. Those are the three critical issues I addressed all along with the RFP.”

The $5 million will go toward the creation of a new world-class start ramp facility, which is expected to be constructed for luge and bobsled. USA Luge’s current indoor start track is too short, and bobsledders at USA Bobsled and Skeleton currently use an outdoor start track. The funds will also help the organization create indoor technical rooms for working on sleds, which is mostly done outside under a tent during the warmer months. The current facility was constructed in 1991.

“These are the things that are going to help us and our athletes perform better for Team USA,” Leahy said. “I think this entire process was all about how do we help provide necessary resources that will help them perform better.”

With their bare-bones building, USA Luge athletes earned 18 World Cup medals this past season, and the team walked away with third place overall in three categories: for the Team Relay World Cup, Chris Mazdzer for men’s singles and Summer Britcher for the Sprint World Cup. Erin Hamlin, who won a bronze medal at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, placed fourth overall in the women’s singles. This was the most successful year in the organization’s history since being founded in 1979 in Lake Placid.

In a prepared statement, Leahy also thanked Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Deputy Director of State Operations Andrew Kennedy, ORDA CEO Ted Blazer, Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism CEO Jim McKenna and Empire State Development’s Richard Newman, Lindsey Boylan, Gavin Landry and Kevin Younis.

“Their support through this process has led us to this announcement,” Leahy said in the release. “I would also like to thank Colin Hilton, President & CEO Utah Olympic Legacy Foundation and Jeff Robbins, President & CEO Utah Sports Commission for their support during this process.”

It was a team effort to lobby USA Luge to keep its headquarters in Lake Placid, with input from a number of key organizations in the Olympic Region, including the village of Lake Placid, town of North Elba, ORDA, U.S. Olympic Training Center, Adirondack Health, Essex County and North Country Regional Economic Development Council.

“USA Luge’s roots are right here and we have felt all along that that this is where they should stay,” Blazer said in the governor’s release. “It’s obvious that the state of New York felt the same way. I’m confident that with the commitment made by Governor Andrew Cuomo, Empire State Development, the community, the Lake Placid Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism and the Olympic Authority that USA Luge will continue to call Lake Placid home as they strive for continued international and Olympic excellence in the sport of luge.”

McKenna said the creation of a new start track will have a ripple effect since it will benefit luge and bobsled athletes.

“I guess this sort of solidifies the fact that New York state and our region is in the game,” McKenna said by phone Saturday. “I don’t think there’s any question that there’s a commitment from the state, and certainly there’s a commitment from the Lake Placid area.”

In addition, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Willsboro), state Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury) and Assemblyman Dan Stec (R-Queensbury) all toured the USA Luge office and pledged their support.

“I’m relieved that they decided to stay five more years,” Stec said by phone Saturday. “That I think gives us some more time at the state level to make sure that we come up with a financial plan of support to not only address USA Luge’s needs in the future but other things, too.”

At the end of February, Stec and Little joined USA Luge officials and members of the Olympic Region coalition at the Capitol in a meeting with the governor’s staff to discuss the needs of the organization and improvements at the Olympic venues.

While the national governing body’s headquarters is in Lake Placid, USA Luge already has an office in Park City, and Leahy stressed that they will continue to have “a robust presence” there for many years to come.

USA Luge recently announced its teams for the 2016-2017 season, and the athletes have their eyes set on the next Olympic Winter Games in 2018 in PyeongChang, South Korea. The five-year commitment would be in place until 2021, less than a year before U.S. lugers compete in the 2022 Olympic Winter Games at Beijing, China.